January 1, 2010

Things that didn’t suck about 2009

Posted in dieting, health, lovey, nostalgia, self-improvement, travel, veganism, vegetarianism at 12:58 pm by Marise Phillips

Although it has been a trying year, 2009 was also full of some truly memorable events in my life:

  • New Years Eve/Day in Amsterdam, followed by an outstanding week introducing my lovey to Paris
  • Successfully tapering off the evil antidepressant
  • Selling my money pit of a car and “making it work” with public transportation
  • Going back to the gym and attending regularly, then finding joy in bicycling and yoga
  • Giving up (for the most part):Β meat, sugar, alcohol, dairy, caffeine
  • Losing 30 pounds, and holding steady for 3 months (though it is high time to re-commit now that the holidaze are over!)
  • Getting my finances in much stronger shape during very difficult economic times

Thank you 2009 for all the tough love πŸ™‚ I am more than happy to carry on!


December 2, 2009

this web is my web

Posted in blogging, DIYDesign, internets, nostalgia, technology, work, writing at 11:37 pm by Marise Phillips

So I got a new job today. More precisely, I got to go permanent after contracting for 14 months at a place where time has flown by in the best possible way. In the official announcement this afternoon, my new manager mentioned that I came to them with 15 years of experience working on the web. All very surreal as I mused on a) how long 15 years is and b) what a different direction my career — my whole life — would have taken, had I not been ‘desperate’ enough to turn to the Internet as a source of friends in a new town.

Looking back on my digital life, it occurred to me tonight that some of the first things I ever posted online were poems. Poems of lust and loss that poured out of me as fast as I could post them, not things I’d already written longhand or kept stored on floppy disk. (Because of course that was your average “high-tech” person’s backup solution in 1994. Tee hee.) But yeah, back to the poems. That unexpected, easy willingness to expose myself online rather surprised me.

Then again, when you consider the explosion of websites and apps such as…

  • my yahoo
  • blogger
  • myspace
  • flickr
  • etsy
  • blurb
  • twitter

…one of the Internet’s most enduring qualities is its revolutionary broadening of the means, and the potential reach, of self-expression. Of artistry. Of feeling. You know, those things we used to keep locked up inside, while making our living doing the more mundane things the world was willing to pay us for. And someday, maybe if we were really lucky, and tried really hard, we’d ‘get published’ and, at long last, achieve immortality. But now? Au contraire! I literally spend a part of every day sharing something about myself or taking a headlong dive into someone else’s life. And it all happens online, of course.

See, the corner of the web I like best is the one where we all have a voice (and call ourselves ‘writers’, ‘photographers’, ‘artists’, ‘comedians’ or ‘collectors’) as we show off to — and riff off of — one another. It’s funny to think that the celebrities I follow are no longer the ones splashed on billboards and magazines; these days, they’re the ones who craft the funniest/most poignant blog posts, crochet the twee-est baby quilts, take endless photos of men with impossibly ornate mustaches, and so on… *They* are the ‘cool kids’ now πŸ™‚

Just this morning, however, I felt an uncomfortable mixture of disdain and desire creep into the shower with me, as I reflected on the new ‘celebrities’ I follow who sell ad space and hold giveaway contests on their blogs. Such a strange thing to do, I thought. Shouldn’t that be considered kind of… I don’t know… uncouth? Like having a corporate sponsor for your wedding? (“And now it’s time the happy couple’s first dance! Brought to you by Kitchy-Brand pressure cookers!”) But as the day progressed and I continued to chew on it, I had to retract my opinion as disingenuous. Making money off ads on your personal website? And how is that different than writing advertising copy for a living? Because you can hide behind the anonymity of the latter? So: better just to be out in the open about it?

Hmph. Sometimes I hate ambiguity πŸ™‚ They say that women are unhappier than ever these days. They say it may be because we just *care* more. Enough to think twice (or three times or ten) about whether something we thought or did or said was the right thing. It’s all very very complicated, but a big chunk of what gets churned out online represents the space in which we’re hashing these things out, together.

Anyway, this has been my web. (Brought to you by our sponsor, Al Gore πŸ˜‰ It’s messy and it’s weird and it can be ugly at times but, on the whole, it’s still beautiful.

October 15, 2008

sex, drugs & chuck klosterman

Posted in aging, divorce, movie review, nostalgia at 9:33 pm by Marise Phillips

i started reading his book — you know, that one with the cocoa puffs in it — and i felt too old for it in some ways, yet the perfect age for it in others. especially when he goes off on how all the women he’s known, born anytime between like 1965 and 1975 (I’m paraphrasing, but my year was in there,) are in love with john cusack.

i’m not, not with him specifically, but the more i thought about chuck’s argument, that pop culture has ruined real life, because it makes us mere humans believe we can attain perfect love, symbolized by that scene in say anything where lloyd dobler serenades ione skye with his boombox in the rain. the sad point that chuck is trying to make is that regular real life can never measure up to what we see in movies.

and i know what he means. i’ve been there, i still have to struggle to drag myself out of that, those dreams of true love and happily ever after, riding off into the sunset. and it’s at once horrifying and also okay.

tonight, i watched before sunset and despite all my assumptions that it would suck (eg it could never be as good as my faint happy memory of before sunrise, etc), that i was too much older than the characters to take anything they had to say seriously, etc etc… i was pleasantly surprised.

1, i’m only a couple years older than they are in real life (maybe 3-4 yrs older than their characters); and

2, their love lives — both when they met and in the interim — share certain themes with mine.

Case in point, Ethan/Jesse’s line:

I don’t want to be one of those people who are getting divorced at 52, falling down into tears, admitting that they never really loved their spouse, and they feel that their life has been suck– sucked up into… a… vacuum cleaner. You know, I want to have a great life. I want her to have a great life. She deserves that. All right? But we’re just living in a pretense of a marriage, responsibility, of all these — just these ideas of how people are supposed to live.

Oh. Oh yes, I know that one. And I gotta say, it sounded both weaselly and fucking true, in equal measures. It made me feel just that little bit more serene about where I’ve been and how I’ve gotten to today.

July 25, 2006

hee hee…

Posted in aging, internets, nostalgia at 5:23 pm by Marise Phillips

Today’s giggles:

  • crazy aunt purl, how i love thee!
  • sundry rocks my world (and her commenters rule, too!)
  • isolatr: why do i love smartasses so much? prolly because i’m NOT one, but always wanted to be.

And my real-world buddies:

  • k encounters a crazy drunk cutie
  • whinger scatted in public!!
  • mejane is a kinky romantic

in other news, my 20-year high school reunion was held this weekend. (fuck i’m old–OLD, I tell you!!)

and no. i didn’t go. the 10-year was enough to remind me why i disliked high school so much. the people i went with were IDIOTS. ok, ok, not all of them… but the overwhelming majority: mouth-breathing twits. people who called me a pinko commie for applying to Berkeley.

HA! i showed them! i ended up at UCSB, developed a drinking problem, and became a little sister at some fraternity i can’t even remember the name of! Wheeee!! (thank god, i laid off the sauce eventually, pulled myself together and graduated with honors. but i often wonder how different life would be had i taken Cal up on their acceptance letter…)

anyway, to be perfectly honest, i MIGHT have been tempted to go to the reunion, but only on two huuuugely-unlikely conditions:

  1. If I weighed maybe 35 pounds less
  2. If my love would agree to accompany me

So, rather than haul my bruised ass down south to some lame Disneyland-area hotel for a weekend of awkward conversations and stultifying smog, I chose a higher calling: to rant about people i spent three years with 20 years ago, from the lofty parapet of my online journal, read by millions of slavering faithful.

is slavering a word? i’m too lazy to look it up.

faithful? anyone? hello?


June 14, 2006

How it happened, Part 2

Posted in divorce, nostalgia at 8:41 am by Marise Phillips

Although this post might suggest otherwise, I wasn't more than vaguely conscious of any unhappiness regarding my marriage at this point in time. Instead, I was focusing a big chunk of my waking thoughts on getting pregnant. As I do with all new obsessions, I bought every book I could find on the subject and spent a large portion of my free time digesting all the information available to me as woman in her mid-thirties who’d been trying for over a year to conceive.

My husband and I had both been tested for possible infertility issues; he was found to have a slightly lower-than-average sperm count, and I was diagnosed with a pre-polycystic ovary. Nothing that would likely prevent us from conceiving were I to take a few cycles of Clomid (an ovulation-inducing hormone) and, possibly later, undergo intra-uterine insemination (IUI). Because we knew a couple who'd blown their life savings on multiple in-vitro procedures, we counted ourselves fairly lucky so far.

Looking back, however, I think our main "infertility issue" was a plain and simple lack of sex. Before we were actively trying to conceive, we'd gone as long as two and a half months straight without it; therefore, the 2-3 times per month we were having at this point seemed plenty frequent by comparison. But I truly doubt it was often enough to make a baby.

Add to that my usual stream of consciousness during each encounter: "There's really no point in trying to come; he'll be done soon anyway… Hum-de-dummm… I can't wait 'til this is over so I can get back to doing [insert current project/TV show/DVD/video game here.]" So yes: rote it was; exciting, fulfilling, titillating it was not.

Still, I loved him and was happy to be commuting with him at my new job.

June 12, 2006

How it happened, Part 1

Posted in divorce, nostalgia at 11:15 am by Marise Phillips

A few years ago, my boss informed me that our team was going to be reorganized and that I – or my job, at least – would be made redundant. The company I worked for, SureSize Corporation*, called this status "redeployment," and it meant that I had approximately 4 months to find a new job, either inside or outside the company – or simply take the severance money and run.

During my year and a half there thus far, I'd had far more ups than downs – but had finally caught a break about a month before the redeployment by being assigned to a very exciting, high-profile project. The timing couldn't have been worse for me to leave SureSize; the project was interesting, a lot of fun, staffed with some of my favorite colleagues and would look great in my portfolio.

Considering the options, I decided to keep working as if my days weren't numbered, and I put in evening and weekend hours to finish the design and specification. My efforts were noticed and appreciated, and I felt vindicated by the praise I was finally receiving from a management team that had hitherto only been fairly dubious of my contribution to the organization. Meanwhile, I put out feelers for other positions within the company because I really liked its culture and benefits and hoped to remain there long term.

The only challenge was staying out of Hank's** way.

Now in charge of the team that had just swallowed up the one I was in, I'm fairly certain that Hank was the main force behind the decision to redeploy me. Unfortunately for my future there, Hank was swiftly climbing the corporate ranks in SureSize's Marin County headquarters – and he'd taken a dislike to me several months earlier, I guess for not submitting to his short-man-syndrome-induced authority on more than one occasion.

Thanks to my "great attitude" and hard work on the exciting project, however, I was recommended for an opportunity to fill in for a product designer in the San Francisco office who was going on maternity leave for six months. The hiring manager there was fairly confident that she would either not come back (since this was her second child) or that there would be an open headcount ready for me by the time the six months were up.

I accepted the new job without hesitation; the only negative (and hardly a major one) was that my current 10-minute commute would increase to about an hour, but the majority of that time would be spent on a scenic ferry crossing from Larkspur to downtown San Francisco. Moreover, SureSize’s offices were in the same exact building as my husband’s. We could commute together!

* Not the company's real name.
** Not Hank's real name.

June 9, 2006

For balance

Posted in divorce, nostalgia at 8:49 am by Marise Phillips

Many of the revelations in my last post come from mixing a half-pound of hindsight, a soupcon of self-flagellation, and a dash of exaggeration.

Here are some of the positive reasons I fell in love with, and wanted to marry, my ex:

  • He was more intelligent than anyone I’d ever dated before, without having that anti-social weirdness that so many super-smart people tend to have.
  • We could talk for hours about all manner of subjects, profound and ridiculous.
  • He was a rugged outdoorsman and loved skiing, camping, hiking and mountain climbing – all of which had a very positive effect on me and my fitness level.
  • He loved food and wine, and learned so much about that latter that he began making it himself.
  • He’d worked with developmentally disabled adults for half a dozen years before I met him, and had heartbreaking and honest stories to tell about the experience. I deeply respected his drive to better the lives of others.
  • He was sensitive, romantic and gave the best gifts of anyone I’ve ever known. For the second-to-last birthday of mine we spent together, he surprised me with round trip tickets to Paris.
  • He loved animals (almost) as much as I do, and we were quickly able to agree on the kind and number of dogs we wanted to have and when we wanted to get them.
  • We had a ball raising and training our two pug puppies, and were equally shattered by the loss of Chloe the baby black pug when she died on the table during her spay operation.
  • We both wanted children very much, and had similar values with regard to childrearing.
  • He was unaccountably kind to my parents and had a fabulous extended family, who were lovely enough to take us all in under their wings.
  • He loved me more than any man ever had, and probably ever will.

June 8, 2006

Confessions of a former Bridezilla

Posted in divorce, nostalgia, self-flagellation at 7:03 pm by Marise Phillips

Top Signs You Shouldn’t Marry “The One You’re With”

  • By the third time you have sex with this person, you ask yourself, “Is that it?”
  • When he asks if you’re bothered by his sexual dysfunctions, you immediately (and repeatedly) lie, “Of course not!”
  • You soon begin to have recurring, sexual dreams about all your favorite ex-boyfriends.
  • You crush on and daydream about other men with increasing frequency.
  • You’re afraid of losing weight, getting hit on, and not knowing whether you’d have the willpower to say no.
  • You don’t discuss any of this with your therapist.
  • Nevertheless, you’re about to turn thirty, so you hound him for an engagement ring. (your boyfriend, not your therapist!)
  • You drag him to estate jewelry stores, agree on a ring you like and he can afford, and are disappointed that he didn’t buy it the day you found it.
  • You get in a fight over when he’s going to propose, not knowing he’s already bought the ring and hidden it under the bed you are both sitting on during the fight.
  • He “finally” proposes during a weekend getaway/goodbye party for his best (lesbian, anti-marriage) friend, who tells you the next day that she dreamt your engagement ring was made of spikes.
  • You worry that you weren’t thin enough for the “day he proposed” pictures.
  • You worry that he wasn’t good-looking enough for the “day he proposed” pictures.
  • At a friend’s bachelorette party about a month after your engagement, you get so drunk that you dance on the bar and… um… hook up with a random stranger.
  • You try to hide this from all your friends who were there; of course, they all know, you know they all know, yet no one discusses it.
  • You lose so much weight between the engagement and wedding that you have to get the ring resized three times.
  • You obsess about the wedding plans and are so controlling of every detail, he has no idea what’s been planned and what hasn’t – and it gets to the point where you can tell: he knows better than to ask.
  • He shaves his goatee a bit too closely one day, and you begin to wonder, “Is it wrong to marry someone who looks um… no-so-good without facial hair?”
  • You hire a personal trainer so that you are in perfect shape for your big day, yet you look at him and wonder if he’s going to ever lose any weight — but of course you don’t dare say anything.
  • A week before the wedding, you burst into tears when you accidentally shut the car door on the fingers of your left hand, worrying: “The photos will be ruined!!!”
  • You drain $5,000 in savings and rack up over $10,000 in debt for the wedding, despite the fact his father pitched in $16,000 for it.
  • You can’t decide which friends to ask to be your bridesmaids, and so you end up with too many.
  • The one you definitely should not have asked is a fairly casual acquaintance, and clearly ends up resenting you for every penny she spends on the wedding, despite the fact you bought her bridesmaid’s dress for her.
  • She doesn’t get you a wedding gift.
  • She is one of the witnesses to your little “indiscretion” at the aforementioned bachelorette party.
  • You don’t enjoy much of your wedding day, and are disappointed in your bridesmaids for various things you expected them to do, but didn’t.
  • The sex is so strange and bad on your wedding night that you ask yourself, “What the fuck was I thinking??”
  • You’re bored during your honeymoon and have joyless, obligatory sex maybe two or three times in two weeks.
  • Months later, you continue to obsess about details of the wedding that weren’t “just right:” e.g. people who didn’t RSVP or who failed to show up, the disappointing taste and design of the wedding cake, the prematurely-lit floating candles that burned out too soon…
  • Less than three years later, you begin to obsessively fantasize about your husband meeting a tragic, untimely death.
  • You have absolutely nothing against him except for one tiny detail… he’s not the one you should have married.

December 23, 2005

my typical christmas, as a kid…

Posted in family, nostalgia at 1:52 pm by Marise Phillips

I was a little shit. Seriously. And not just at Christmastime.*

But come each December, as gifts from various friends and family started to pile up under the tree, I would lie in wait for my parents to leave the house. Fortunately for my brother and me, they sang in the church choir. And once we were old enough to stay home alone, we ended up having many opportunities to do so, since they had to go to all sorts of rehearsals and special masses.

And the reason why this alone-at-home time was so important: I had come up with a master plan to find out what *all* my presents were long before the 25th. All it took was a pair of scissors and some tape.

With the scissors, I would slit open each seam where the tape met the wrapping paper, unwrap the present, decide whether I liked it or not (the latter situation being good to know about in advance, so I could adequately prepare myself for pretending to like it later), and then either remove and replace the old tape, or simply re-tape where it had been slit open. No one was the wiser. And my brother enjoyed the advance notice as well.

The only time we had any issue doing this was the year we got an ATARI 2600. We were *dying* to play with it, and it was *soooo* tempting to take it out of the box and fire it up. But we had principles, man. Yeah… right!

*Throughout the year, I beat my little brother to a pulp, taunted him (he had a horrendous temper, and I could ignite it at the drop of a hat), and generally got him in trouble with our parents. I was almost always the instigator, but I had a way of looking angelic, making all adults think that the enraged one, next to me, was the one causing the problem. God, considering the number of times I royally screwed him over, I’m shocked that we’re actually on speaking terms these days!

September 2, 2005

Helping how I can…

Posted in hurricane relief, nostalgia, travel at 6:24 pm by Marise Phillips

My personal favorite of the better-known charities:
Habitat for Humanity

Our friends on the Gulf Coast are going to need places to live. And how.

Also, thought I might use this space to share some sweet reminiscences of a beautiful, magical town that will never be the same again…

I have been to New Orleans only once in my life. It was in the Spring of 1994, and I was there for a Microsoft Windows developers' convention. My employer back then was Ziff-Davis Expos, a company that produced a variety of conferences and trade shows for the high tech industry. As a marketing coordinator for one of the shows we put on, called "Windows Solutions," I was sent to the conference to recruit attendees to our event, basically by being a "booth babe." Ha!!! πŸ™‚

My lord, it was a whole lot of fun, that trip. I went with two colleagues, Andrea and John, who I didn't know too well beforehand, but were fun to travel with and to explore a new city with. And I had many firsts, during my visit:

1. First time seeing the South
2. First time enduring humid weather (ugh!!!)
3. First/only time seeing the Mississippi river
4. First/only time on a riverboat (a casino riverboat, no less!)
5. First time smoking a cigar
6. First (and best!) time hanging out at a gay bar

I was also "stalked" for the first (and not quite only) time in my life.

The booth next to us was sponsored by a tiny, UK-based software company, who had sent out some very smart, very nice, and (mostly) very unattractive men to sell their wares to the Microsoft developers attending the conference from all over the US. The youngest guy working there, whose name was Julian, was an awkward, gangly redhead — and boy, did he take a shine to me.

Frequently throughout the three or four days we worked in the booths alongside one another, he would sneak away to come talk to me, all googly-eyed, deluding himself that we were meant for one another, that I was the smartest, most beautiful woman in the world, and that he should move out to San Francisco and come live with me and be my love.

Sigh… Romantic in any other circumstance, certainly… but honestly — I was a dunce next to just about everyone else in the convention center, and I really wasn't all that beautiful πŸ˜‰ But I was nice to him, and since I was one of the maybe 4 or 5 attractive women in the joint, I suppose his overactive hormones had something to do with it…

The conference's close was commemorated with a huge Mardi Gras-style party on the last night. John, Andrea and I showed up together for some light socializing, food and drink. After getting off to a fairly quiet start, the party quickly shot to a chaotic crescendo when a huge parade materialized (inside the convention center, somehow) – complete with floats bearing brightly-costumed MS employees, all throwing Windows-logoed poker chips and Mardi Gras beads at us. It was surreal and kinda fun at the same time.

We made a break for the casino riverboat at some stage, and the very persistent Julian had managed to find and attach himself to me. It wasn't long before he began using the tried-and-true "it's my last night in the country – I fly home tomorrow" come-on. Maybe it was the lure of more shiny beads, or possibly the 3 or 4 hurricanes I drank, but I ended up taking him up to my hotel room for some strange reason.

Against my better judgment, I slept with him and… well, it was surprisingly satisfying* for a one-night-stand. Apparently, it was for him, too. Because I was deluged with e-mails and, eventually, trans-continental phone calls over the next few weeks after the conference ended. All about how he was going to move out to the Bay Area, make me his wife, etc and so forth. And I'm like, "Dude, I'm not into you. At all." (He must have been all the more charmed by my oh-so-effete Valley Girl drawl. Yeah.)

Weirdest of all, I came back to my cube one day after lunch, decided to play my voicemails on speakerphone while talking to the girls I'd just come back with, only to snatch up the phone in horror as the shrieking voice of an Irishwoman rang out, "RiseyP! You fucking CUNT! You homewrecking slut! You stole my man! This is [so-and-so] — Julian's girlfriend and the mother of his 2-year-old child! I was pregnant when he was out there with you in New Orleans and you made me have a MISCARRIAGE! YOU FUCKING SLAG!"

Uh, yeah.

So I wrote to Julian, demanding that he cease and desist with any further contact. That I wanted nothing to do with him or his psycho girlfriend. Fortunately, he agreed to leave me alone. FINALLY.

The funniest thing happened, maybe 8-9 months later: The girlfriend wrote me an email to apologize for lashing out at me, that she wasn't well at the time, etc and so forth. And that Julian was moving to the States and that she hoped I would contact him, because he was deeply in love with me and she hoped we would be happy.

Fuckin' freaks.

But N'awlins?? LOVED it there! And I even love this crazy-ass memory which will forever be associated wth my one and only visit.

*I hate to kiss and tell! But I believe this is what must have cemented my penchant for British men.

Next page